New from NY with Pacific Surfliner questions

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Joined
Jun 27, 2022
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Hi I’m a new member from NY. I’ve done many trips from NY to Chicago, but this summer I’ll be in California and I have questions about the Pacific Surfliner. I wanted to take the overnight from San Jose to LA. Most of this is on Thruway bus until Santa Barbara. How are those buses? I was going to get business class tickets. Does that make any difference on the Thruway bus?
Thank you!
 

billosborn

Train Attendant
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Mar 6, 2022
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As a Southern Californian, I can tell you that you are in for a treat - at least from Santa Barbara. :) There is no difference on the bus with the business class ticket, but the bus is comfortable enough. Once you get onto he Surfliner, you should get some brief views of the Pacific Ocean before it turns inward towards Los Angles. Best thing about Business class: more leg room and free snacks and drinks. And the vibe is Californian. the conductors are quite amicable. More info can be found on pacificsurfliner.com (They even have their own webpage :)
 

oregon pioneer

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near Seneca, Oregon
I have done the early morning inbound train from San Luis Obispo to LAX, and really enjoyed the ride. My back doesn't do overnight buses any more. I'd be getting off the Coast Starlight at SLO in the evening (they have a wonderful weekly street market, great place to get dinner Farmers’ Market) and getting back on a Surfliner in the morning to continue the trip.
 
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I have done the early morning inbound train from San Luis Obispo to LAX, and really enjoyed the ride. My back doesn't do overnight buses any more. I'd be getting off the Coast Starlight at SLO in the evening (they have a wonderful weekly street market, great place to get dinner Farmers’ Market) and getting back on a Surfliner in the morning to continue the trip.
That sounds really nice - you're selling that trip well!
 
Joined
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That does sound nice! I’m concerned about the Coastal Starlight’s reputation for being late though. I need to be in LA by at least 4:00pm the next day. I think all the talk about Coastal Starlight being late so often( and sometimes as much as 11 hours late) has me scared!
 

oregon pioneer

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That does sound nice! I’m concerned about the Coastal Starlight’s reputation for being late though. I need to be in LA by at least 4:00pm the next day. I think all the talk about Coastal Starlight being late so often( and sometimes as much as 11 hours late) has me scared!

When I have needed to be in LA at a certain time (as I did for the Sunset Ltd which departed before the Coast Starlight arrived), I make sure to either stay in LA or in SLO, but I like SLO better. The morning train in to LAX from SLO is a Surflliner, which has a very good on-time record. It is scheduled to leave SLO at 6:11am, and arrive at LAX at 11:43am.

SLO is a nice town, and unless there is some big event going on, the motels tend to cost half what they do in Santa Barbara or LA. We read the reviews and stayed at the Peach Tree Inn. I can't speak to how others would get to the station at that hour, as we had a friend willing to get up early and take us there.
 

joelkfla

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Is there Uber or Lyft in SLO that would get me the train very early in the morning for the 6:11 train?
Lyft is in SLO. I just tried a trip from Peach Tree Inn to Amtrak; it says pick up in 4 minutes. I can't speak to early morning availability, but if pick-up is that quick there are probably plenty of drivers in the area.

You could try entering a trip around that time PDT to check availability. Just make sure you stop and back out before accepting the vehicle type.
 
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Has anyone actually done the overnight Thruway bus from San Francisco to Santa Barbara ? Wondering if it’s any more comfortable than your average Greyhound? If my son and I managed this ride we’d get into Santa Barbara at 6:30 am and switch to the train for a more comfortable ride into LA.
 

zephyr17

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Has anyone actually done the overnight Thruway bus from San Francisco to Santa Barbara ? Wondering if it’s any more comfortable than your average Greyhound? If my son and I managed this ride we’d get into Santa Barbara at 6:30 am and switch to the train for a more comfortable ride into LA.
Seating in the Thruway buses is similar to Greyhound or any other intercity/charter buses. While I haven't ridden that particular one, I can't imagine it is anything special or unique. It's a bus.

Personally, I wouldn't voluntarily subject myself to an overnight bus ride, period.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2008
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Lyft is in SLO. I just tried a trip from Peach Tree Inn to Amtrak; it says pick up in 4 minutes. I can't speak to early morning availability, but if pick-up is that quick there are probably plenty of drivers in the area.

You could try entering a trip around that time PDT to check availability. Just make sure you stop and back out before accepting the vehicle type.
I believe you can order a Lyft the night before for pickup the next morning. At least, I was able to do that in San Francisco. Maybe it depends on the location, but perhaps worth looking into.
 
Joined
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Has anyone actually done the overnight Thruway bus from San Francisco to Santa Barbara ? Wondering if it’s any more comfortable than your average Greyhound? If my son and I managed this ride we’d get into Santa Barbara at 6:30 am and switch to the train for a more comfortable ride into LA.

Haven't taken the bus you mention but have used the bus from San Francisco to SLO quite a few times, along with other Thruway buses around the country. We have also travelled Greyhound a fair bit and here's my take on the difference.

Thruway buses are not standard but are to a reasonable to good standard in generaL As comfortable as the modern Greyhound but the big difference is always fewer passengers, sometime there were only 2 or 3 other plus us. A not full bus is quite relaxing although that said a nearly full Greyhound with 'interesting' characters can be very interesting.

SLO is my favourite town in the US, it's all the things Jennifer writes and more, and has full facilities too including plenty of taxis of various types. Excellent cafe near the station for breakfast and for lunch and dinner a very good and popular Cajun restaurant opposite. If you have to make a stop over you could do a lot worse than SLO.

On the Surfliner heading to LA, my view is the best of what is outside the window is between SLO and Santa Barbara, it's one of the world's great train rides, pure California.
 
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